California Governor Gavin Newsom has pulled out all the stops to retain his governorship in the wake of an upcoming recall election, including bribing voters with the promise of free stimulus money. However, the hot summer months could reduce his plans to ashes unless he is able to miraculously fix California’s regular, ongoing power outages.
As one journalist aptly noted, people who can’t turn on their lights as they vote are going to hold Governor Newsom responsible. As the Democratic Party is opting to throw its support behind Governor Newsom, a successful recall would see a Republican candidate take control of the state.
Supporters and opponents of Governor Newsom all acknowledge that he’s in for a rough ride this summer. The largest three investor-owned utility companies in the state are expected to shut power off to hundreds of thousands of homes in the hot summer months. Records from last year show that more Californians experience power cuts than the year before, although these cuts were shorter than they were in 2019. Rainfall is at historic lows in the state, which means that blackouts could be coupled with water restrictions and horrific wildfires.
Governor Newsom’s supporters are blaming the problem on climate change. They add that Californians know the governor has been dealt a bad hand, and isn’t responsible for either the hot weather or the failure of companies such as PG&E to cut trees near power lines in order to prevent blackouts and fires. However, many Californians are likely to remember the fact that their governor referred to shutoffs as “the new normal” in 2019 before reversing course and blaming utility companies for the problem.
There is also the fact that many voters look for someone to blame when things go drastically wrong in their state. Governor Newsom would likely be blamed even if he may not be at fault for all past and future power outages.
There is no way to accurately predict the result of the upcoming recall election. What can be said for sure is that Democrats who are so confident of winning may be in for a surprise if the hot summer months bring about more power cuts, water shortages, and horrific wildfires. If Governor Newsom cannot show better leadership skills than he did during the COVID-19 pandemic, even his handouts may not be enough to keep him in power.
According to California law, if Governor Newsom cannot win at least 50% of the vote, he will automatically lose his governorship to the person who got the most votes in the recall election, even if the individual in question does not get 50% of the vote. In any case, the individual in question is certain to be a Republican.